Dismissed or Discharged in Bankruptcy

05 Apr Dismissed or Discharged in Bankruptcy

Discharge and dismissal are radically different concepts. Yet his pair of words is often confused by the public: they are misused as though they are interchangeable. Let’s put each in its place.

Dischargerefers to the order of the court that makes the debtor’s dischargeable debt forever unenforceable. A bankruptcy discharge is the goal of a case. Proper usage is that the debtor “receives a discharge”, though if you tell a lawyer you were discharged (of your debts), they’ll understand.

Dismissedrefers to the case filed by a debtor. It almost always refers to the termination of the case before a discharge is entered. The legal effect of a dismissal is that the debtor and his creditors are returned to their legal rights as they existed outside of bankruptcy.

The ’05 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code added a number of duties of the debtor which, if unperformed, lead to dismissal of the case. The amendments also limited the scope of the automatic stay in cases filed subsequent to the dismissed case. As a result, it has become far more difficult to represent yourself in bankruptcy and get that prized discharge.

A bankruptcy lawyer can help you get a bankruptcy discharge.

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Cathy Moran, Esq.

I'm a certified specialist in bankruptcy law (California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization) practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 30 years. In addition to practicing bankruptcy law, I train new practitioners at Bankruptcy Mastery.
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